Cardigan Mountain School A boarding and day school for boys in grades 6 through 9

Cardigan Student Awarded National Scholarship

Ben Ely

Congratulations to Ben Ely ’21, who is a 2019 recipient of the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship!

Established in 2002 and overseen by the Institute for Educational Advancement (IEA), the scholarship is “one of the only merit-based, need-blind high school scholarships for highly gifted students across the United States.” Once Ben has selected a secondary school, the scholarship will pay his tuition for four years. 

“I applied for the scholarship because I wanted to see how I compared against other gifted students,” says Ben. “I haven't had the opportunity to compete at this level before and the reward was far bigger than any risk on my part…I almost didn't apply, but I was willing to do the work and I never expected to win.”

In addition to providing Ben’s high school tuition, the scholarship also offers educational counseling during the high school selection and application process, through his high school career, as well as during the college application process. It also introduces him to a network of like-minded peers. As a Caroline D. Bradley (CDB) Scholar, Ben will be connected to a network of life-long learners. In addition, according to the IEA website, “The annual Bradley Seminar provides an opportunity for scholars and their families to gather and share ideas and information; develop meaningful relationships with others to whom they can relate; and help grow a lifelong community support network.”

Ben Ely working in the Gates Lab

“So far the program has helped me identify secondary schools that are a good fit and have strong programs in the applied sciences,” says Ben. “They have also introduced me to the admissions teams and faculty at the schools. The program has also connected me with other CDB Scholars to hear their takes on the schools I am interested in.”

“The network of advisors and students has already proven to be incredibly valuable,” agrees Ben’s father, David Ely P’21. “Ben has an advisor who knows his strengths and weaknesses and will be an important advocate for him throughout secondary school.”

No matter where he ends up, Ben plans to set aside time to work on a project that began at Cardigan and has direct ties to his interest in applied sciences. As a member of the Cardigan sailing team, Ben has often watched his teammates struggle to right their sailboats after capsizing and decided during his seventh-grade year to try to do something about it. The Gates Innovation and Invention Competition—a program at Cardigan that gives sixth and seventh grade students the opportunity to design and build an invention—gave Ben the opportunity to explore and develop a solution. Ben’s final product was the SAil Aid, a handle that can be attached to a sailboat and onto which sailors can grab and pull their boats into an upright position.

Impressed with the design and the practical implications of the invention, the Gates judges gave Ben a patent nod, an award that “allows the patentability of the student’s invention to be assessed by a law firm specializing in intellectual property law.” 

Ben Ely and his Gates Award

With the help of his parents, Ben has spent the past seven months pursuing a patent. “The patent application for the SAil Aid is going well,” Ben reports. “A provisional patent application has been filed with the US Patent Office, and I am working on a prototype with a model shop associated with the University of Vermont. The goal is to produce a working prototype that I can use to file the actual patent application and use for demonstrations for commercialization.”

It’s the hands-on type of learning at which he thrives. It’s also one of the main reasons Ben’s father says they chose Cardigan three years ago. Fortunately, with the help of the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship, Ben will be able to continue his passion through high school, applying science to the practical problems he encounters. 

“Ben's idea, embodies the practical nature of the Gates slogan, ‘I wish I had thought of that,’ and the pursuit of an actual patent has provided him with invaluable real-world experience that will continue to teach him important lessons,” says Dean of Academics Jamie Welsh. “His recognition as a Caroline D. Bradley Scholar is a testament to his efforts and his growth at Cardigan. We wish him well in his future studies.”   

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